Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Raise Them Up


Then the Jews began to complain about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:41-51 

There are times in my life when I have been so low it feels like gravity is heavier than ever. We can all feel like we have too many burdens, sinking low with all we have to bear. Losses of all sorts make us wonder how far down really is. We human beings can be so overhwlemed at times we lose our sense of direction and purpose. Yet, we are never alone, although we regularly fail to ask for help. We isolate rather than communicate.

Jesus is in trouble with the authorities, as usual. His leadership and authority is questioned because he is from an average normal family who they know. They think their judgement is all they need. They believe they know enough to always be right. None of us knows enough to judge the other. Often rumors rather than truth destroy us. We fail, over and over, to trust God's judgement and truth. We are invited today to cast all our burdens on the One who promises to lift us up - from our daily burdens and fears and from the depths of our sadness and hurt. We are never alone in any and every challenge.

Today I ask God to help me live trusting in God's promise to raise us up, now and always. May we cast our burdens and cares on the One who promises to raise us up and never leave us in the deepest pit.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Bread of Life


Jesus said, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.” John 6:27-40 

Bread of Life

Waking in the early morning
we find ourselves hungry
for bread and power for the day
hungry for nourishment that will keep.

Facing the worst of our days
we hunger for the lasting love
which will hold us through the night
and lift us up in the morning.

Turning inward in our sorrow
we try to feed ourselves to replace
the brokenness and damage inside
never full and always anxious.

The bread of life is soothing to the soul
wraps us in a blanket of soft hope
sings us asleep as we still cry
lives with us in our fragile state.

This bread of life is sustenance beyond
today and tomorrow's aching hearts
strength for the long haul life
promise of a endless redemption.

 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Be Silent! Come Out!


Jesus and his disciples went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. Mark 1:21-28

In this day, we don't talk much of releasing people from evil and unclean spirits. We might call people mentally ill, deranged or addicted, but we don't take about being possessed by evil. Yet, we love scary and magical movies, where good people become fiends and the heroes must release them. Secretly, all of us know the evil that lurks within, ready to move to the destruction of others and violence toward self. We have seen how one person's evil in the form of abuse can destroy hundreds and  hundreds of lives. Selfishness, and vanity are often the worst possessions as well the need to destroy others to stay on top. It happens every day, even and especially, within the church.

We find ourselves in Mark's Gospel, learning of the early miracles of Jesus. These are important moments, when God's love is revealed in the removal of the evil which has destroyed and individual. Just as one person's evil can ruin many, many lives, so can one act of God's love, restore and reinvigorate many more lives. We are invited this day to see evil as evil and seek the healing and love of God. Simply and profoundly, our work is to tell the truth, naming the evil in our midst, committing to the prayer and hard work that roots it out, even and especially in the church. We cannot hide behind roles and authority, but rather submit humbly to the cleansing and transformation of Christ.

Today, I ask God to help me admit to my own brokenness and evil and seek healing and forgiveness in every moment. May we be bold truth tellers, who seek the full love of God to heal us and our communities for the good of the whole world.



Saturday, January 27, 2018

Do Not Be Afraid


When evening came, Jesus’ disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” John 6:16-27 

There have been many rough seas in my life and many small boats not up to the challenge. Storms come up unexpectedly, even when we are careful to check the forecast.  Our hearts can be on the ground with lost hope and our fears rise to overtake us. There are time when everything is quiet and calm, but those truly are rare days. We are sailors all, on rough, uncharted seas and often feel inadequate and without the skills to manage the moment. Gratefully, it is when I remember to pray, and to make my prayers like breathing.

The disciples see Jesus and are terrified. Their arms are leaden from rowing, their bodies exhausted beyond knowing and they were spent and afraid of dying. Into this moment comes Jesus, walking across the water and he joins them and they reach the shore. They are still exhausted, in shock and totally overwhelmed. They don't stop being human in the face of miracles and neither do we. We all are facing storms and feeling overwhelmed. God's promise to us is this - that when we are in these times, we must look for Jesus on the seas and with us in the boat. We are never alone.

Today, I ask God to help me face the storms ahead with prayer. May our breathing become praise and thanksgiving, knowing we are never alone, and there are more miracles on the horizon.

Friday, January 26, 2018

So That Nothing May Be Lost


After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” John 6:1-15 

So That Nothing May Be Lost

Some days a simple start becomes an end
things brake down and things are lost
people likewise are lost and afraid
turning hard and protective in their fear.

When cut loose from all that we know
we can be like children suddenly orphaned
crying ourselves to sleep in the darkest nights
our broken heart visible to all around.

We can be like sheep without a shepherd
wandering into deep valleys and strange places
running from wolves real and imagined
alone without a sense of direction or purpose.

The Divine finds us in the midst of our loss
we broken fragments are gathered up
we who loose our way are given a map
love restores us even as we are still weeping.


 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Nothing on My Own



 ‘I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
 ‘If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony to me is true. You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. Not that I accept such human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But I have a testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent.
 ‘You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept glory from human beings. But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?’ John 5:30-47

Yesterday we picked up our Girl Scout cookie order. It made me remember all of the years we participated in the sale of these cookies. I have four sisters and three daughters, all who participated in scouts. our Mom was the cookie mother several times and we had cases and cases stacked in our home. It was in Girl Scouts that I had the lesson of nothing on my own reinforced, over and over. At camp, we went two by two, even to the bathroom. We never swam alone. We were responsible for each other no matter how we felt about one another. We were also part of a larger group who we needed to care for as well. It was the best leadership training I ever received, apart from that taught me by my family.

Jesus is challenging the religious leaders to move from formula to relationship, from distance to proximity. True faith is found in the care for others and relationship with God. The true leader is one who cares for others and serves humbly, always taking others along. We are invited to consider in these selfish, me first times, that we are call to community and relationship. We are called to bear one another's burdens and to bring others along, no matter how we feel at a given moment.

Today, I ask God to help me live and serve others, considering nothing on my own, but trusting in the love of God to be active in all things. May we move from self centeredness and worry, to the care of community, so that the world might know of God living and present love.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Hour is Coming


Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.
“Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” John 5:19-29 

The Hour is Coming

Time's up she said and we put our pencils down
thinking we had probably done badly not finishing
wondering whether we had a future at such youth
thinking we were already too old and jaded then.

It's time she said as she stood near the door
gripping her belly with each and every pain
not ready to be a mother and feeling very young
she stepped into the sunlight and prayed.

Running late, they crossed the street to the office
praying that their time was not up, their future
still not destroyed by a frightful diagnosis
they held hands and smiled to reassure one another.

This hour and every hour belong to the Holy One
we are given one life on earth as a full gift
our hours can be spent weeping or singing
dancing or giving thanks for this moment in time.

 


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Stirring Up the Water


After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.'” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.
But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.” For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God. John 5:1-18 

I have returned home after several days and many flights. I was in Navajoland, helping to stir up and encourage leaders there, helping some to walk again on their own two feet and feel confident in their abilities.  Some needed courage to be leaders and others need strength to get up again. We all have times in our lives, where so much has changed or failed they we need help just to get in the water. We need encouragement and God's power. We all have times and days of brokenness and self-doubt.

Jesus comes to a man who has been waiting for help and encouragement for seemingly forever. Jesus healed him immediately and the man got up and walked on his own. The religious leaders were upset with the man and with Jesus. This healing threw their control and authority in question. They wanted folks dependent and broken. Yet the true love of God is healing, reconciliation and restoration. Jesus brought that to the man and he was never the same, no longer stuck in waiting mode but moving on his own power and the strength of God's love.

Today, I ask God for the strength and power of love. May we move forward together, despite set backs and discouraging pain, so that the world might know God's love is here and now.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Being Called


After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. Mark 1:14-20

I grew up around fishermen, loving the visits to the fish market as well as sitting on the shore with a rod in my hand, hoping to land the biggest fish. My brother and I caught minnows and sold them for bait to tourists to fish with. People who fish for a livelihood have to be strong and hearty and willing to work long hours. And serving on an island where fishing was the main economy, I learned again how important and challenging it can be. No one puts their nets down and walk away easily as it becomes part of one's being and identity.

Jesus walked along the Sea of Galilee and invited fishermen to join him. They were the sons of fishermen, probably fishing had been in the family for generations. It was their identity, and both these sets of brothers, immediately followed him. They were going into the unknown, into unfamiliar territory and yet they answered the call. We know their names and call them saints. And we are invited to follow the call, and step into the unfamiliar, knowing that we follow in their footsteps.

Today, I ask God to help me answer Christ's call in my life. May we all respond with a yes and follow Christ where we are called, trusting that we follow in the footsteps of saints.

Come and See


Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that Jesus was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him.
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.” John 4:27-42

Come and See

I am far from perfect and yet
he asked me for a drink of water
he treated me as family not foreigner
made me welcome by understanding.

Flutters in my frail human heart
overwhelmed by the real welcome
carrying forgiveness and reconciliation
he lifted my burdens from my being.

Come and see that he did not shame
sharing a conversation  and kindness
making me know that we belong
together on the land of our ancestors.

We can be whole in our brokenness
mended in our very fragile fabric
reunited as a warring family
tears overflowing in thanksgiving.

Come and see and never be the same
hear that there is no wall or barrier
that the Divine can not overcome
there is no one outside of God's love.

Friday, January 19, 2018

In Spirit and in Truth


Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”John 4:16-26 

I arrived in Albuquerque midday and spent the afternoon driving to Farmington. The drive is beautiful, mesas, canyons and snow capped mountains in the distance. It is also very dry here and I got to wondering about water and wells. Some of the streams across the Navajo Nation have been polluted by run off from mines and drilling. Where did people go in ages past to get water? And did they meet holy people at that water source?

Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at the well and treats her with dignity and kindness. They are from different traditions but their people share some ancestors and some land. Their stories weave together even though the lines and boundaries have drawn them apart. We find Jesus treating the woman as a relative and friend, with kindness and understanding. Her life is complicated and she would be shamed by his kind, but there is no judgement, just invitation. We are invited by God to really how Jesus treats the supposed enemy, the cast away, the isolated. He treats her with respect and honor and we are invited to follow his lead.

Today, I ask God to help me to see each and every person as Jesus does - as a member of the family and a friend. May we speak and live that truth, that God's love and gift are for all people. May we love and welcome all as well.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Living Water



Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, ‘Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John’— although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’ John 4:1-15

Living Water

In this high desert whitened winter
the deep dryness hidden by snow
we gather around moving streams
we circle like birds over a fallen prey.

Clouds have obscured our light
aching cold has frozen our sources
we feel the pain of starvation
we lack love and joy in our bones.

The nutrients of health are missing
from the climate of our conversation
we fear for our daily bread and meat
even though it is a land of plenty.

Let us seek together that ancient well
the spring of living water from on high
the gift that is holy and restorative
given by God to enemy and friend alike.






Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Increase and Decrease


After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized—John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.
Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath. John 3:22-36

We who are leaders in the church are called to be humble, yet all too often we think of ourselves as having great power and influence, acting more like politicians and CEOs. If we have any power or influence at all it comes from the love of God, working in and through us. This is a great reason to be very humble, not judging others or acting superior to them. People need servant leaders, now more than ever.

John is being questioned by religious leaders and his disciples. They wanted to draw John into competition with Jesus, wanting him to exercise his influence and power. Instead, he demonstrated his humility and his understanding of God's movement in the present moment. The world needed Jesus and was sent by God to bring healing and redemption to a world of violence and oppression. We are invited by God to be leaders who can make room for the activity and love of God working in our world today.

I ask God to help me always be a servant leader, putting the love of Christ and the needs of the world always first. May we who have influence and power use it to serve always so that the Divine love might be known again in our time.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Light Has Come


Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” John 3:16-21

The Light Has Come

Like distant celestial bodies
we circle around seemingly alone
in our private orbits of sorrow
with no way to get ourselves home.

The winter darkness descended deep
failure and isolation our companions
we squint in our shadowed dwellings
afraid to be exposed as so incomplete.

Yet light has found us in our hiding place
love has sought us out and sat down
here at our table of seeming disaster
the holy has deemed to dwell.






Monday, January 15, 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King Day - The Wind Blows


When Jesus was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” John 2:23 – 3:15 (NRSV)

I grew up with this speech on my lips. "I have a dream" and I was fortunate to meet Dr. King as a child. I know that some thing dreams only to be the activity of our subconscious and our inner self, yet I am convinced that dreams come on the wind, a gift and challenge of the Holy Spirit. God works even when we sleep and we often hear and see best when we are silent and at rest. I have been dreaming about new possibilities and new challenges. The dream can die or we can put ourselves in the middle of this destructive world and sing until the dream is carried world wide again on the wind.

Jesus invites a night visitor, Nicodemus, that he must be born again. Born again of the Spirit. The very committed religious leader is overwhelmed by Jesus' challenge as are we. Yet God invites us all to be born again of the Holy Spirit, not once, but daily. We are called, now more than ever, to listen to the Spirit, on the wind, in our dreams, and in the voice of our children, and be born again so that we might live for others. We must be born again daily so God can use us for the healing and redemption of the world.

Today, I ask God to wash over me, take away my pride and attitudes and fill me again with the Holy Spirit. May the nightmares of our times be replaced by the dream of God, that all children, from every nation and culture, might be blessed with freedom, and be filled with God's love.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Nazareth?

Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”  John 1:43-51

This reading was designated for Thursday Morning Prayer as well as the Gospel for today. At first, I wasn't going to write again, but in light of recent statements by our "leader", I think it is critical to reflect some more on this passage. We have both a lesson about call and a lesson of where God dwells. We have much to learn in this land of ours, especially on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nathanael speaks of Nazareth as a ****hole town, a place thought to be of no value, no consequence, useless and backward in every way. He questions his friend Philip as to the value of this man who was a "supposed" messiah. Nathanael voices what his whole world thought. And yet, this is where God  incarnate dwells, in the places where no one would look or expect. In the ruined and crime torn places, God incarnate dwells, and see us under the protection of our fig trees, thinking our cruel thoughts. We are invited today, in this season to know that God calls all people and places good, and holy. From the humblest of places, the voice of God came and is to come.

Today, I ask God to help me disregard no one or no place but seek the holy in every moment in every person. May we know God as we are in relationship with those most different from us. And may we welcome, with the love we have been given, all those who come to our communities for help and sanctuary.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Zeal for your House


The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. John 2:13-22

These days there are so many real estate shows on television, history might record that all of us worried about property and design. Folks in following generations might wonder if all we worried about was money as well. Truly, we can be known by what we put our time and energy into. We can make our lives invitational or transactional, caring only about how much we will gain from any interaction. We can worry so much about looks that the heart is lost completely.

Jesus enters the temple and all he can see is the transactions. There were many rules and regulations, and the pilgrims that came from afar had to use certain currency and special sacrifices. The life of faith was controlled by the bankers of the time. We can find ourselves in the self-same situation. We can be run by budgets or we can be motivated by faith and spirit. Sometimes we have to actively make that choice.

Today, I ask God to help me choose faith and spirit in all things. May we not be like the moneychangers, but rather those who walk in faith, welcoming all and making room in the most humble of places.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Doing What Mom Says


On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days. John 2:1-12

There are situations that children find themselves in, when one's mother is present.  No matter the age, we find it impossible to resist her direction, and we as Moms know how powerful our words can be. We sometimes see in our young the potential they don't see. All too often though, our words seem like orders rather than encouragement. We ache so much for you children's thriving that we can, at times, be harsh when tenderness is needed. Balance in the parenting world is often hard, no matter how young or old or children might be.

Jesus has his first miracle at his mother's insistence.  The Gospel openly recalls his initial refusal. The Incarnate God, who was fully human, felt reluctant and hesitant in his calling, just as we often do. It is hard for us to picture the Savior of the world as tentative and uncomfortable. Yet, we all can envision moments when we faltered, were hesitant and lacked confidence. We often find ourselves there now. Yet, Jesus had a push, a nudge, a loving direction. And we all need those today, as we move together in service of God's love.

Today I ask God to give me the gift of those who will lovingly nudge me and encourage the gifts I have been given. May we all be fearless as we encourage others, knowing that the gifts given by God are to be used for the good of the world.



Thursday, January 11, 2018

Anything Good?


The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” John 1:43-51

Anything Good?

The child of abundance
clothed in splendor leans in
to a full and abundant refrigerator
asking "anything good?"

The child of the streets
shivers at night gazing up
mumbling prayers to God
and asks for anything good to happen.

We are children of abundance
in a desert dry without tenderness
we fill our hearts with goods
leaving no room for anything good.

From the poverty and sidelined Nazareth
we received gift upon gift
freely given love for the least of us
everything good is here with us now.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What's in a Name?












The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 

The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). John 1:35-42

I am named Carol Joy after my mother's sister and because I was born on Christmas Eve.  There have been times when I have enjoyed my name and other times when I haven't, especially during my teen years. Most Indigenous tribes have traditions about naming, and a person might find themselves with several names in a given lifetime. Names can tie us down to a certain historical period or a family. A name can be trouble or gift depending upon the circumstances we face.

The people who followed Jesus were looking for many things.  He opened his life to them, not separating himself from them but inviting and including, making room for their needs and insights. He gave Simon a new name which means rock. He saw in him the potential of a solid, strong leader even though there were days when he was none of those things. He saw him grounded and faithful, even though some days he would be sorely tested.

Today, I ask God to help me be grounded and faithful, despite the many challenges before me. May we all know that each has been called by name, and loved before our very first breath. May we be grounded and solid, despite all the weather and changes which are thrown at us.


Monday, January 8, 2018

Grace Upon Grace


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. John 1:1-18 

Whenever I get ready to travel, and anytime I feel unsettled or insecure, I return to the ocean. We have a vast coastline here in Massachusetts which is stunningly beautiful even in the coldest moments. My heart and home are by the ocean, even though my family doesn't have a home there any longer. It is for me a place close to the " Father's heart". The place from which we all came in so many ways and which we depend on for our survival. We may not realize it, but the welfare of the ocean is the welfare of all humanity. We have watched it this week, in the midst of the storm, crash angrily on the shores and flood many places, never before flooded.

From the beginning, we learn, Jesus was in the midst of Creation, a part of the the gifts of life for all of us. And grace and forgiveness then were there in creation, a heart for compassion and love which guides us all. Moses had to bring laws but Jesus brought the light of love, which surpassed and eclipsed the rigidity of structure. God invites us, in this season of Epiphany, to renew our lives by finding those places and people who renew our belonging to the father's heart where grace upon grace resides. We are invited to step beyond the things which destroy life and light, and move towards love unbounded.

Today, I ask God to help me live truly close to the God's heart. May my life reflect the grace given, the light shared and the love made known. May we live as children of a loving and living God who was present from the very beginning and is with us in every breath we take.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Epiphany 1 - Final Mary letter


John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:4-11

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

I am writing in haste and trembling as I do. Our world is completely shaken up. One of the contingent from the East, who we had been enjoying so much, had a dream that they should flee, and we should also. Rumors have arrived in their camp that Herod would kill our little Jesus. He thinks he's the competition!  Some people are so needy for power and control that they have to destroy any good thing or person who might detract from them. I am sick in my heart, Auntie. Joseph woke from his sleep, early this morning to say we must go now. Not home, but we must run away quickly into Egypt where the rulers here have no authority. Oh, I wanted to go home do much. I am trying to be brave but I am terrible at it.

The generosity of strangers is amazing, though. We had so little and yet, with the many gifts we have been given, we will have food and shelter for our journey. I do not know how long we will have to be away. Joseph is packing as I write. I am enclosing a letter for Mama and Papa, which I hope you will deliver after a few days. They were so worried when we left and now, oh my, I feel like they need us more than ever. I need them so and just want to go home. This child is such a gift from God, Auntie, yet some people would hurt and destroy all the good that God gives us. I cannot see the future, but I know, deep in my heart, that Jesus will be all that God promised us, if we can just keep him safe for now. The cost is pretty high, though, and I ache to be wrapped in Mama's arms right now. Please tell her that!

Don't try to find us. We will be in touch when we are settled and safe, but it may be awhile. Please pray for us. Pray that I can be strong. And please visit Mama soon and tell her God goes with us and we will see one another again.

Much love,

Mary

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Ephiphany - Mary letter 33

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
`And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:1-12 

Dear Auntie,

We had the most extraordinary night! I still cannot believe it!  Although we have had more visitors than I would have ever imagined, these were unreal! Long after midnight a young man came into our rooms, as they are. He was dressed as from a foreign country and his speech was not local but his voice was beautiful. He asked if we would pardon the interruption but he was the herald for some important visitors. We could not refuse, we were so fascinated and in awe. In came three elders, adorned in silk and the finest wool, festooned with jewel encrusted turbans, their long robes being held aloft by young boys. They seemed to have traveled with a whole army of servants. They invited us outside to their tents. When we went outside,we saw that they had erected a huge and magnificent tent with bright colors and thick carpeting on the floors. They beckoned in to follow them and sat us down on magnificent soft sofas. Then, to our initial alarm, they knelt and raised voiced in prayers and thanksgiving for the boy. He smiled at them through sleepy eyes and they gave him incredible gifts. A small fortune!

They are resting now and I have just put the baby down for a rest. Here, in this humble place, these amazing men found us and brought us priceless gifts! I am overjoyed but Joseph seems very worried. Neither of us slept much after all that! Joseph plans to sit with them today and discuss their travels and their encounter with King Herod! Can you believe it? They are the kind that kings and princes give audience to and they are here, camped around us! The landlord was beside himself at first, but they offered him gifts of rare fruits and delicacies and he too is now thrilled. I still cannot believe all that has happened.

much love,


Mary

Friday, January 5, 2018

Christmas 1 - Mary letter 32



“I called to the LORD out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
You cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
how shall I look again
upon your holy temple?’
The waters closed in over me;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped around my head
at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the Pit,
O LORD my God.
As my life was ebbing away,
I remembered the LORD; and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.
Those who worship vain idols forsake their true loyalty. But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Deliverance belongs to the LORD!” Jonah 2:2-9 


Dear Auntie Elizabeth,

I was so sick yesterday that I was afraid I couldn't feed the baby or be a good mother. The wise women came and gave me some broth, late in the day and I seemed somewhat better by evening. They think some of the food our relatives brought might have been too strange for my stomach. I do not have much energy but can sit up and feed the baby today easily, though I can't do much else. They brought a wet nurse yesterday for one or two feedings, so I could sleep. They were so helpful and I have grown very fond of these gifted and special women. What would I have done without them? And Joseph, I know he is grateful for their help. He was terribly frightened when I was very sick and fretted as to what he should do.

We are growing as a family everyday and it seems like more than a few weeks that we have been parents, and a true couple. How could I ever live without either of them? We have grown close, and despite our still sometimes awkwardness around one another, Joseph and I laugh often and hold each other close as we fall asleep. Oh I miss my family, but I also have a family now. We belong together, this much is very evident to me. I still catch Joseph looking over at us with wonder, as I sometimes gaze at him holding the baby, and think how blessed I truly am.

Sending much love,

Mary

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Chritmas 1 - Mary letter 31



Lord, you were favorable to your land;
   you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
   you pardoned all their sin.
You withdrew all your wrath;
   you turned from your hot anger.


Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
   and put away your indignation towards us.
Will you be angry with us for ever?
   Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
   so that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O 
Lord,
   and grant us your salvation.


Let me hear what God the
Lord will speak,
   for he will speak peace to his people,
   to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
   that his glory may dwell in our land.


Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
   righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
   and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The
Lord will give what is good,
   and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him,
   and will make a path for his steps. Psalm 85


Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

We had a visit yesterday from some of Joseph's relatives that live nearby. They hadn't seen him since he was a small boy! It was a wonderful visit and I am worn out from my time with them. They had many stories to tell, and frightened us a bit by telling us that the Roman governor was hearing word of a Jewish king that was born here in Bethlehem. Our relatives comforted us by saying that they would never look for us in a place like this! They had heard of our location because of knowing the inn keeper here. And it's true, these are humble dwellings for a king! Our little one doesn't seem to notice one way or another.

We have been talking about going home soon. The wise women don't want me to move too soon, but we are sure ready to be working our way home. We may have to find a long way round just for safety's sake, after hearing of the ruler's concern, but I for one am looking to be back home with Mama. I wish she had taught me more about caring for a baby! Or maybe she did and I wasn't listening! Hope you are well and keeping up your prayers for us. I feel as if I have so much to learn these days.

much love,

Mary

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Christmas 1 - Mary letter 30


When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. Luke 2:15-21

Dear Mama and Papa,

yesterday was the day we took the baby to the temple for his dedication. The wise women were bustling around me to make sure I was strong enough to go to the temple, and they took special care to dress the boy and to say their prayers and blessings before we left. We had to hurry since they almost made us late. The rabbi was very patient with us and explained everything. Once he did I felt a little queasy! Joseph was strong for both of us and I looked away so I wouldn't faint. The men made a pretty tight circle, the women moving back and out of the ceremony, and I was glad of it! Jesus was so good and only whimpered. I really ached to grab him and run even though I knew we were doing the right thing. Mother's instincts are very strong and I am feeling so protective.

Afterwards, when we were heading home, two elders named Simeon and Anna, stopped us at the steps of the Temple. They told us they had been waiting for us, for this child. Their prayers were answered in seeing him and holding him. They were so gentle and kind, I couldn't refuse when they asked to hold him. They said prayers over him that were so sweet and kind. We were both moved to tears! God always seems to provide unexpected and remarkable encounters to remind us we are never alone!

I asked Simeon to write his prayer down for us. I wanted to share it with you!


Lord, you now have set your servant free 
    to go in peace as you have promised;
For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior,
    whom you have prepared for all the world to see:
A Light to enlighten the nations,
    and the glory of your people Israel.

love to you both from the three of us,

Mary

Monday, January 1, 2018

Christmas 1 - Mary letter 29


Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25

Dear Aunt Elizabeth,

it has been just over a week since the birth of Jesus. He is growing stronger every day, and I am healing well. We are still in the stable, but the weather has been fair and mild. The animals have been spending nights tethered outside instead of in with us. That makes things much more pleasant. I am a little unsettled though. I had a dream that disturbed me and made me sit and think this morning very early, while Joseph was still asleep. It was a dream where the angel appeared to me, and oh, how I remember that moment so vividly! That life changing moment! It changed everything for me. Dreaming again of that moment, it seemed as if I was still at home, still secure, no baby or husband and obviously no stable! I awoke with a sense of anxiety for the coming days, although I do not remember why. The angel had more to say to me but I woke up! I wanted to hear him again but I could not return to sleep.

We are hoping to return home soon, as I am healing quite quickly and the baby is sturdy and strong. Mama and Papa sent a letter with great hope and joy to see him. They want to celebrate when we arrive home. The roman population here celebrated rather loudly last night. It seems that it is their new year, and they drink and party like fools. Maybe that is why I was disturbed in sleep, but somehow there seemed more to it. God is doing a new thing with us and sometimes I am clueless as to how to live and go forward. Pray that I am able to go forward with faith.

much love,

Mary